Inside Adobe’s Colorful, Redesigned Headquarters | Open Office | WSJ

Inside Adobe’s Colorful, Redesigned Headquarters | Open Office | WSJ

January 15, 2020 65 By Peter Engel


– We’re here at Adobe’s
headquarters in downtown San Jose. And this gray scale building behind me might not be what you’d expect
from the makers of Photo Shop but let’s check out the inside. (percussive music) Adobe built its San Jose HQ in 1994. After 20 years, it came
time for a redesign. Designer Natalie Engels
said it was in need of a more colorful update. – You know when we first
ventured to the space, it is exactly what you would imagine, from the outside. It was very bank, institutional like. And that’s not what tech is. That’s specifically not what Adobe is. – So when I walk in here as
an employee during the morning and the first thing I see is
this vibrant orange color, what is that doing for me? – It should have the right
amount of yellow in it actually to have this happiness, a vibrancy, but not too vibrant to agitate you. And so we really wanted,
especially after people are stuck in traffic, to
come in here and just feel refreshed and vibrant and
ready to start their day. – [Adam] Color is more
than aesthetics at Adobe, it’s their business. So Engels and Adobe used color theory throughout the space to
think more scientifically about how hues and brightness
levels inspire work. – So when you think about it
from a scientific perspective that orange, that’s very much kind of an invitation for community. What we find is, we find
people working down here on their own, they’re opting in. It’s a place that they want to be. It’s be active since we’ve opened it. – [Adam] Beyond fresh
color, Engels designed a variety of spaces to accommodate
different types of work. Before the redesign, Adobe
had only closed office spaces. The focus then was on giving engineers the quiet space they needed for work. Floors looked like this one. – As work has shifted, as
generations have changed, it became pretty obvious that they needed to be together. – [Adam] So that meant opening offices up. But Adobe isn’t a full
open office environment. – We really want to create
balanced work space. Do you have the right meeting rooms? Is there a place where
you can make phone calls where you’re not disturbing others? A work station or a desk is
actually about task work. – That’s why each floor also has spaces for group and
individual focused work. Adobe has these phone
booths that are dedicated to special moments in
Photo Shop’s history. This is 1990, the year
Photo Shop was invented. And they actually have the first version installed on this Mac right here. Let’s check it out. Suppose a color picker
doesn’t really matter when you’re operating in gray scale. Each floor at Adobe is different. Some, like this one,
were more experimental, tests to see what worked for employees. So now we’re into this more
open office environment. – Yes, I think something
that’s fascinating about this floor is that
there are no offices. While everything, everything
in life is an experiment, we don’t know exactly what’s gonna work better for you, that’s gonna work for me. And so there is a spirit of innovation. – What we’re trying to
do is be more innovative and to do that you have
to experiment more. And you have almost create a culture and an environment
where you can feel that. – [Adam] In a modular room called Lab 82, named after the year Adobe was founded, the company tests ideas
in work place design including how plants, sounds, colors, and scents can change a meeting. – ]Eric] And what we’re
looking to do is identify the best possible future ways
of being able to collaborate. – [Adam] And when something really worked, Engels and Adobe listened. These booths are really popular? – Oh they’re so popular that we had to come back in and add this whole row. – [Adam] One of the
most noticable upgrades Adobe made in the
redesign was the addition of two new cafes. They went from one, to three. – This space is their
cafe called Pallettes. It’s farm to fork concept and it really harkens back to what this land was. You know this whole area was orchards. And so we really wanted
to give people a place that recognized what the community was. Appreciate it; don’t just
brush it under the rug. – [Adam] The cafe gets some of its produce from the company run garden located just outside its doors. – We’re able to grow about
5000 pounds of produce that we use in our cafes and
in our learning kitchens. And what’s really great about it is, we have employees come
and grow their own produce here on site, we bring master
gardeners to teach them different things that they can grow, and provide them seeds
that they can take home and grow on their own. – [Adam] Adobe wants
employees to be healthy, and that means more than eating well. In its wellness center,
employees have access to cardio machines, weights,
classes, and this: So Adobe has this thing
called the Soma Dome, which is basically a guided
meditation experience in this pink egg. I have to try it out. I’m getting ocean waves. It’s relaxing. Adobe’s redesign continues on some floors, but across the street the company is more than doubling its capacity with a new tower set to open in 2022. Is the new office space going to look like this space inside? – There will be a lot of the essence of what’s happening here, but
also trying to think about how people will be using
devices differently. How they’ll be commuting differently. If you design perfect space for now, for a tower that’s going to open in 2022, you can guarantee that
it’s not going to work. – [Adam] Sounds like the
experimentation will continue.